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2019-02-18 Issue 87 Fundamental Behavior 7 Clarify Expectations, Then Respond Quickly
In today’s fast-moving world, this Fundamental Behavior, which seems straightforward at first glance, has actually become a challenge for many of us. Email and other forms of constantly tethered communication have become so ingrained in our work and personal lives that we don’t always give it a second thought. However, whether via email, text, phone or in person, the basis for this Fundamental Behavior holds strong – communicating and managing expectations, then responding in a timely manner throughout a project is one of the most powerful tools to achieving success in any project and harmony in working relationships.
In her most recent book, “The Four Tendencies,” The New York Times Bestselling Author and happiness expert Gretchen Rubin sets out to explore this behavior by examining four distinct personality profiles – Upholder, Questioner, Obliger and Rebel. The framework is meant to explore more than just your personality type, as many do. Rather, it looks at the way in which we as individuals tend to respond to inner and outer expectations, and ultimately strives to better set and manage expectations for success (if you’re curious, you can take the quiz here.) Yes, I took the quiz myself and it is spot on!
Rubin’s quest to discover how we as individuals and teams best understand each-others’ expectations is a strong example of just how impactful this week’s Fundamental Behavior is. What Rubin eloquently points out is that unmet assumptions and expectations for ourselves and others are at the root of most conflict. Yet, in many circumstances, this pitfall can be avoided with a strong level of awareness and a basic understanding of various communication styles throughout any project.
Over the years, I have found a few simple tips to help me keep this Fundamental Behavior top of mind:
Make no assumptions:
Clarify action items and create deadlines at the beginning of a project. This has proven to be the key in successfully setting the course for success. Most importantly, however, is ensuring that these expectations are realistic and manageable, so that you and your team are properly set up from the get-go.
While you may have set deadlines early on, frequent check-ins during the course of a project are useful. This provides you and your team with the opportunity to discuss real-time status updates and challenges in a flexible and transparent manner, and if needed, put a Plan B in place.
Acknowledge the process:
A simple Google search regarding “how to respond quickly to email” reveals that that we’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the task of responding to email. And it’s no wonder. We all experience in-boxes that are filled to the brim day in and day out, which can make the ever-present task of responding a daunting one. However, I have found that the simple ability to acknowledge an email, even if you cannot provide an in-depth response immediately, is one of the most beneficial and powerful ways to continue to nurture a project or relationship.
At its core, communication is an essential tool to achieving productivity and maintaining strong working relationships across all levels, whether you are a part of a team or leading one. Simply adopting the Fundamental Behavior of ongoing communication and acknowledgement can be the very thing that makes your team work more cohesively, or sets you and your team apart.
Last year I wrote on this topic as well and as I reflect back on what I drafted last year and the experiences that I have had since that time; I find that learning to perfect FB#7 is certainly a never ending journey!
YKK AP America Inc.